A healthy baked feta stuffed falafel bowl with spring veggies, quinoa and radish raita.
The first time I had falafel was in college. There was this gyro place in the dining hall and they had an employee that would wish you a "cucumber day". The employees would also make you feel like a dumbass when you used the correct pronunciation of gyro. So looking back, it was kind of a weird interaction every time, but the falafel was worth it.
Falafel is so filling (so much fiber...) and pairs well with our favorite thing to make: big salads. And as we all know, salads need lots of texture (creamy, crunchy...you know the drill), flavors (pickled, salty, sweet, etc...) and colors. In fact, the brilliance of falafel in salad bowls is not new. Even Healthy-ish and Sweetgreen have a collaboration bowl to this effect! So we figured, it was time to make our own spring inspired version and somehow figure out a way to stuff falafel.
Yep. Stuff falafel.
My one occasional gripe with falafel is they're so same-same all the way through. And usually that's perfect, because you're mixing it with fifty other toppings of stuff. But I really wanted to stuff the falafel. So we did. This recipe uses feta cheese with an encouragement of red pepper flakes, but you could pull this off with lemon zest and maybe even an olive cream cheese ball? Just thinking out loud here. More falafel should be filled. Let's make it happen.
An important note about this healthy bowl: see all the piles of ingredients? This is so easily up for interpretation. If you hate cucumbers, use carrots. Shred them. Make them into ribbons. Slice produce in different ways to create new textures. And yes, some ingredients complement each other more than others (there's a reason these are together but again, what's the point if you hate one of them?), but you should absolutely personalize and experiment. Think of this bowl as a starting point.
This bowl of gorgeous pink and green creaminess is a radish and herb raita. Raita is an an Indian yogurt side dish that typically contains cucumbers, but we went with peppery radishes and mint. This condiment, or a creamy side of some kind is crucial. It adds fat to a bowl that might otherwise be too dry. Fat is delicious. It makes things taste good, so the heart healthy olive oil and greek yogurt (extra protein!) is beneficial. Please don't skip it.
In terms of recipe methodology, there's a bit of waiting time involved here for the falafel. After blending the base, it goes in the fridge. It makes the mix much easier to scoop and work with to form little falafel pucks. After they're filled with feta, they go back in the fridge before the oven. I know it's a pain sometimes to do a recipe that involves waiting, but make these whenever you have time in advance (hell-even do them a day ahead and bake day of). Five years ago, I would have said "eh-fridge time is negotiable" if I saw it on a recipe, but it's not. It makes the product turn out much better. So be warned.
Remember- on this blog some things are more complex or are weird ingredients or take more time...but it's not without reason. We always make it worth it.
Feta Stuffed and Baked Falafel Bowl
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
- 3 T minced red onion
- 2 T fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup coarsely grated radishes
- olive oil
- mint leaves
- fresh mint and cilantro
- lemon wedges
- cooked quinoa
- bibb lettuce
- cucumber ribbons
- sesame seeds
- pickled beets
- naan or pita wedges
stuffed herb falafel:
- 2, 15.5 oz cans of drained chickpeas
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 cup packed parsley
- 1/2 cup packed mint
- 1/2 cup packed cilantro
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 small container cubed feta cheese (12 pieces)
- red pepper flakes (optional)
directions: For falafel: Add chickpeas and rest of ingredients to food processor. Puree until smooth. Add 3 T water gradually. Scrape down sides of food processor with a spatula. Refrigerate mix for 30 minutes. Using a cookie dough scoop (approx. 2 tablespoon size) scoop chickpea mix into palm of your hand make into patty, add cube of feta, get a second ball and flatten. Place on top of bottom round and feta and shape into puck around feta. Place on parchment in fridge for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375 F. Brush falafel with oil. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes. Tops should be browned, insides cooked and cheese slightly melted.
For raita: fold yogurt, herbs, onion, lemon juice and jalapeño together in a bowl. Shred radish on a large holed grater and fold in. Top with olive oil and herbs.
Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.